15 February 2006

On Restaurants

As a celiac, restaurants pose an especial challenge for me. Which means that when I find a place that serves food I can eat, I tend to be very loyal. When a place has multiple dishes I can eat, or goes out of its way to alter a dish so I can eat it, I am more than grateful.

First off, chain restaurants are essentially useless to me. Even when they have food I can eat, they are subject to the whims of the franchise itself, and that dish could be discontinued or altered at any time. Plus, it is almost never made on the premises, so there is no way it can be altered to be safe for me to eat. Especially since such employess are NOT hired for their ability to cook.

Two local restaurants stand out on this score: Chang's Garden in Pocatello, and the Canton Restaurant in Idaho Falls. Both restaurants have been quick to answer my questions about ingredients. Chang's is willing to make dishes without soy sauce for me. The Canton Restaurant went above and beyond today. I asked about the sesame chicken. First question: "Is it breaded?" "Yes." I start to say, oh, never mind, but the waitress immediately offers to get the cooks to make it without breading. They did better. They used cornstarch for the breading. I can't remember the last time I had something breaded in a restaurant. Probably around the time I was transitioning to a gluten-free diet, oh, 5 years ago. To be honest, there was more breading than I actually wanted, but it was such a novelty to be able to EAT the breading that I didn't mind too much. :^D My one complaint about the sesame chicken, really, was that it didn't come with any vegetables. But it was still very, very good.

In general, Chinese/Asian restaurants do better on this score than any others. Probably because they make all the food on-site. My favorite restaurant is Sri Thai in Fort Collins. I can eat nearly everything on the menu, without modification. Why? Because Thai dishes use rice noodles and aren't big on soy sauce. (For those who don't know, the second or third ingredient in soy sauce is wheat.)

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